Practical Tip – Leaf Rubbings

Quick practical tip for nature journals!

A leaf rubbing is a wonderful way to capture the leaf edges and veins, but also allows one to create an instant background to a journal page.

It also allows you to create an instant copy of the leaf in the journal instead of waiting weeks to press and dry a sample.

You can also colour the shape around the leaf such as you can see in the third picture below.  This time you will place the leaf on top of the page and colour over it and out onto the page.  This will leave a blank-shaped leaf with a coloured surrounding.

How to make a coloured leaf rubbing ~

  • Place the leaf under a page or paper.
  • You can work directly on your nature journal page, but I would encourage you to experiment and test your technique on a scrap piece of paper first.
  • Use a soft crayon or soft coloured pencil.
  • The pencil should be used lying slightly sideways and not with the very tip of the pencil.
  • Lightly colour over the leaf with a light, even pressure so that the details show through the crayon.
  • If you press too hard you will create such a dark colour that the details of the rubbing won’t show.  Also, you may actually flatten the surfaces that should be revealed when rubbed.
  • Keep your page in the exact same position until the leaf is complete.  Any movement can distort the shape of the object you are shading.
  • You can shade other colours over the one you have used to create more realistic or creative results.

So, why not try this in your next nature journal entry?

Blessings, Nadene

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3 Things to avoid in handwriting lessons

What Works! 

Are you new to homeschooling or facing a crisis with your child’s handwriting?  Here’s some practical advice ~

Here are 3 things to avoid in handwriting lessons:

  • Boring  laminated chartYoung children want to write real words as soon as they can and find endless pattern pages and those pages featuring one. letter. at. a. time. very boring.  These expensive handwriting books take almost a year to complete and many young children become frustrated and negative about handwriting.   We use laminated handwriting charts to learn to print and write cursive.  It is quick, free and painless, and within weeks your child will be able to start using copywork pages and practice their handwriting in real sentences.
  • Bad form – Everyone struggles and makes mistakeHandwriting arrowss when learning something new.  Some children become extremely stressed when they cannot control their fine motor muscles or struggle to remember how to correctly form each letter, and this adds to a negative attitude towards handwriting.    With my method, children use a whiteboard marker on the laminated handwriting charts which rubs out in a jiffy.  Any mistake is quickly and easily erased and the child feels much more satisfied at the end of their lesson.  To teach correct form, mom demonstrates writing each letter on the chart while talking through each movement and shape and then the child copies on the chart.  Watch carefully for correct starting points, directions of the stroke and when and where to lift the pen.
  • Basicshttps://practicalpages.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/p1070277.jpg?w=300&h=225Practice the basic letter formation.  Learn the upper case letters as soon as they master the lower case letters.  Go on to real handwriting as soon as possible using copywork pages.  Practice daily in short, sweet handwriting lessonsCopywork is an excellent handwriting exercise because your child will use almost all the letters, join cursive letters, combine upper and lower case letters in meaningful sentences.  This also is a great help in learning spelling and memorizing Bible verses. 

Here are some helpful downloads on my Packages Page

Handwriting Tips Booklet (US$R7.00 / ZAR70.00)   This comprehensive 20-page E-book is packed with practical tips and activities covers pre, early and basic writing skills .  It includes helpful activities and fun pre-writing games to build up your child’s gross motor strength, develop fine motor control and develop their spatial awareness.  Important guidelines to promote correct posture and pencil grip for maximum control and minimum stress while learning to write.  I recommend you also purchase the step-by-step guides below for specific guidelines to teach print and cursive.

Teaching Print step-by-step (US$2.00 / ZAR20.00)    An 8-page booklet with practical advice, clear examples and step-by-step instructions on how and where to place letters and how to form each print letter.  I share remedial and junior primary teachers tips, which have proven very effective in our in our homeschooling.

Teaching Cursive step-by-step (US$2.00 / ZAR20.00)   A comprehensive 8-page booklet with practical advice, simple instructions, clear examples, step-by-step descriptions on how and where to place letters and how to form cursive letters.

Pop over to order you handwriting booklets on my Packages Page.

Wishing you every blessings, Nadene

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Practical Tip ~ Hands-on Activities

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~

Hands-on ActivitiesHere’s my secret to successful, fun, memorable homeschool ~ Plan a hands-on project or activity for each theme that is well-suited to your children’s age and interest and to the lesson taught.

Here are some benefits ~   20140807_123837

  • As children use their hands to build, sort or otherwise manipulate materials, different areas of the brain are activated, enriching the learning experience.
  • Diversity of skills, methods, materials and activities develop children’s personal connections which creates the best memories of the books, themes, characters or topics studied.  Remember – concrete before abstract!
  • Abstract concepts are made concrete by physically manipulating materials to represent abstract concepts in different subjects.  This is very important for young children!
  • Hands-on activities are engaging and motivating when children are using manipulatives or are involved in hands-on activities.
  • When children practice and show what they know by relying on movement, activities or manipulatives, children involve a variety of learning skills  in addition to reading, writing, listening and speaking.
  • Hands-on activities involve creativity with materials they are using, such as when they are building a model or creating an artistic representation of a concept.
  • Diversity of hands-on activities allow children to present their understanding in their strengths, while creatively encouraging them to develop in their weaknesses, for example, kinesthetic/ verbal/ non-verbal/ visual/ auditory / spatial-dimensional / dramatic/ musical/ presentation.
  • Hands-on activities are  very important for remedial education, reinforcing learning where children struggle with reading, writing or speaking skills.
  • Hands-on activities are wonderful for gifted children, giving them challenges and creative opportunities to express themselves.
  • Children may need to work with siblings,  partners, teams or small groups which develops their ability to collaborate and communicate.  
  • Young children develop a sense of independence when they are encouraged to do things for themselves.  This is huge confidence booster!
  • Hands-on activities make incredible introductions to lessons where children are instantly drawn in and motivated in the lesson.
  • Used as conclusions to themes, hands-on activities provide an excellent summary presentation for the work studied. where children can demonstrate their application of techniques, knowledge and understanding.  These projects often form wonderful displays for family and friends to view and enjoy!
  • Provide choice and freedom.  I have only discovered in these last few years that my child can create their own  learning with some prompts, suggestions or concept outlines. I provide the necessary materials and she decides how and what activity she prefers.
  • All my kids rate the hands-on activities as those they loved and enjoyed the most!
  • Simply = it is fun!

Don’t forget to include high schoolers in your hands-on activities planning! 20140722_175101

  • Especially in Science and Biology, where correct techniques, scientific approach and accurate methodology are vital.
  • More importantly, as the study becomes more abstract in high school, hands-on activities may provide the necessary experience to make connections and cement the highschooler’s understanding.
  • Career and vocational hands-on activities provide meaningful and realistic experience for teens and young adults to more effectively chose their future study and career.

Are there any disadvantages?20140220_122903

  • Some projects take a long time, with several phases, such as our solar system mobile above.  My suggestion = MAKE the time available and stretch out your schedule and plan it in.
  • Space to be messy and creative.  Prepare the area, use plastic table cloths, aprons or newspaper to make cleaning up simpler.  Work outside weather permitting.
  • Some projects are difficult to store but photos capture the project for portfolios.
  • Not every lesson has a practical activity.
  • Some children become very stressed and frustrated by mess or creative processes.  They may prefer written projects or quiet presentations.
  • Some parents see hands-on activities as “busy work” and prefer to focus on formal lessons.  This is especially true for “school-at-home-type” homeschooling where parents insist on keeping to a strict schedule.  Again, may I plead with you to relax and enjoy the journey!  Especially with young children – take your time and make the time for hands-on activities!
  • Parents homeschooling multiple ages find these activities distracting to the other children.  My suggestion is to find something suitable for everyone to join in or to provide unique options for each child.

My blog is filled with hands-on activity posts!  Here are some posts to read ~

Other articles on the Internet ~

I trust that these practical tips inspire and encourage you in your homeschooling!  Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences or questions in the comments below.

Blessings, Nadene

 

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Practical Tip – Round Table

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~

round tableWe have always had a round table for our homeschooling and it remains a wonderful, practical method of sharing space and being near the child who needs my assistance.

Some simple practical tips ~

  • Round tables are fairly informal = not school-at-home-desks (although this is perfect for those families who chose to do so 🙂 )
  • Place children on opposite sides and sit in the seat between them.
  • Sit to the left of a right-handed child to watch them doing handwriting or work through maths problems, or write dictations.  This way you can see what they are writing.  Vice versa for a left-handed child.
  • Use a Lazy Susan in the middle of the table for shared stationary or art sets.
  • It is easier to share books or view the same picture when sitting at a round table.

Combining different ages at a adult-sized table ~

  • Smaller children sit at a low table and chair near my chair.
  • Younger middle school aged children should sit on sturdy cushions to bolster their height to the correct height = elbows at 90 degrees to the table.
  • Use an elastic exercise band/ strap for smaller children to rest their feet on a base.  Read how seating affects handwriting.

Now that my  children are  teenagers, they prefer to sit on their own and spread their things out.

Homeschooling is an organic, changing approach, and we sit where the season and lesson best suit our needs.

In grace, Nadene

Notebook Pages On Hand

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~

notebook pageMy blog was birthed because I wanted to share my notebook pages!

Notebooking is a fundamental basic for a Charlotte Mason– based approach.

Some tips ~

  • Start with free downloads.  Several blogs and websites were a welcome resource when I started homeschooling.   Notebooking Pages, Notebook Fairie and Homeschool Helper Online  were excellent sites!
  • Keep them on hand.  File your notebook pages in a large notebooking ring binder.  Make several copies of your kid’s favourite pages.  Also, I filed notebook pages in my children’s ring binders ready for each lesson so there was no delay between the lesson, looking for a suitable notebook page and their work.
  • Start with basic pages and create specific pages.   When I created pages,  first pages were a variety of blank format/ boxes/ lined and header pages.  Then I created specific pages for Sonlight History notebook pages, Copywork pages for handwriting practice, Biography pages, Bible pages, notebook pages with famous artists, famous musicians and world leaders’ quotes for each theme, topic or chapter we studied.
  • Start small.  For reluctant writers, start with minibooks.  A combination of a notebook page with minibooks is a welcome invitation over a large blank page.  Kids much more easily write a few sentences in a minibook rather than feel like they have to fill a large page.

  • Kids make your own.  As my kids got older, they learnt how to  create their own notebook pages on MS Word. They used a basic blank template  and added their own boxes for illustrations and selected their favourite font.  Later, they typed out their own notes.  Now, my high schoolers often simply write out their notes on lined pages.

Pop over to my Free Pages for your free notebooking downloads.

Blessings, Nadene

Nature Tray

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~

nature trayA simple little plastic tray is a wonderful collection holder for the week’s nature finds.  Inspired by Celeste (a mommy to 6 little kiddies under 8!) of Joyous Lessons, her tip has been a very practical help in our homeschooling.

Here’s how it works ~

  • Place the tray at a suitable height for young kids to see and feel and add odds and ends daily.
  • Great for little kiddies who love to collect and want to show and share with others.
  • Good to hold items for further magnified glass or detailed observations.
  • Name, group and classify some of the nature finds and read up about them in reference books.  Normally I look up biological names, but don’t expect my kiddies to do so too.
  • Sketch, paint or draw and label something each week from the nature tray.  This is great for older teens (or mom) who does not find their own nature items each week, but still want to journal in their nature journal.
  • Clear the tray each week.  Pack things in Ziplock bags, boxes or envelopes in a nature storage box.
  • An empty tray is a great reminder to get outside and go on a nature walk!

Hope this practical tip helps you and your kids in the nature study!

Blessings, Nadene

 

 

One-Page Calendar Chart

Here’s this weeks’ practical tip ~

calendar & weather chartKindergarteners and junior primary children enjoy the daily ritual of learning the days of the week, names of the months, weather symbols, seasonstemperature, etc. during calendar time.

https://practicalpages.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/p1080808.jpg?w=300&h=225

chart with all the discs

Instead of fiddling  with several bags or envelopes of the little names and symbols to attach to the chart, I created a one-page chart with rotating discs and slide viewer to quickly change the daily calendar.

It saves time that everything is all on the chart, ready for each day’s calendar time.

chart from behind

No need for searching through boxes, sorting through little symbols, numbers or pictures.  No need for sticky stuff.  Nothing gets lost.

You can download my free Junior Calendar Mini Office with Days, Months, Season & Weather Chart under my Free Pages tab ~ scroll down for  Mini Office free pages.

Read how to make and assemble the calendar chart here.

Hope this practical tip helps you in your homeschooling!

Blessings, Nadene

Practical Tip – Hooks

chart hooksHere’s a practical tip – Use hooks for charts & maps

For years now, I have used hooks on the 2 knobs on the top of my whiteboard to hang all my charts, timelines, maps and large illustrations.

If you look closely, I unscrewed the two knobs and slid curtain rings over the screw thread and replaced the knobs.  Then I hung 2 metal S-hooks on the rings.  Even if you don’t have a whiteboard, you could install 2 hooks on your display wall and hang your charts on these hooks.

Each chart, map and my timeline has 2 curtain rings so that I can display them quickly on the S-hooks.

To store my charts, I hang all the charts on  2 cup-hooks screwed  on the back of my sewing cabinet, but it could be on a door, shelf, wall etc.

I have used hooks on my bookshelf near the door to hang our nature study bags.  Filled with water bottles. paints and nature study materials, our bags are right there, ready for use.

Hope this handy, practical tip helps you in your homeschooling.

In Grace, Nadene